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Sen. Harris puts Zuckerberg between a rock and a hard place for not disclosing data misuse

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) spent her portion of today’s epic-length questioning of Mark Zuckerberg getting the CEO to squeeze himself deeper and deeper between a rock and a hard place. He didn’t reveal anything particularly damning, but he also — with her help — made himself look ineffective and clueless. Her questioning had Zuckerberg contradicting himself on a serious topic: how the decision was made in 2015 to not inform the 87 million users that their data had been improperly sold off. If he didn’t know about how that decision was made, what kind of leadership was that? But if he did know, then how could no conversation have taken place about the decision before it was made? It was one of the few times in the hearing where Zuckerberg’s prepared remarks proved wholly insufficient. Harris, who sounded bored — as well she might be after some of the softballs that had been lobbed in Zuckerberg’s direction — began by saying that she was “concerned” by what she’d heard. “During the course of this hearing these last four hours you’ve been asked several critical questions for which you don’t have answers,” she began. We were also tracking the many, many times Zuckerberg declined to answer clearly or deferred with the standard “we’ll follow up.” For the record, Harris listed that Zuckerberg did not address: Whether Facebook tracks users after they log out (his answer to this, “I know that people use cookies on the internet, and that people can probably correlate activity between sessions,” was a monumental eye-roller considering we know this is a crucial capability Facebook deploys.) Whether Facebook can track activity across devices Who is Facebook’s biggest competitor (Senator Graham pursued this with vigor) Whether Facebook “may store up to 96 categories of user information” (I would be surprised if it is that few) Whether he knew about Aleksandr Kogan’s terms of service or whether Kogan could sell or transfer data under them But her main issue, aside from informing Zuckerberg that these points had not been forgotten, was to bring up the specific occurrence that in 2015, Facebook learned that the data of millions of users had been abused, and yet did not inform those users. “A concern of mine is that you, meaning Facebook, and I’m going to assume you personally as CEO, became aware in December of 2015 that Dr Kogan and Cambridge Analytica misappropriated data from 87 million Facebook users. That’s 27 months ago,” she said. “However, a decision was made not to notify the users. So my question is did anyone at Facebook have a conversation, at the time that you became aware of this breach, have a conversation wherein the decision was made not to contact the users?” Here Zuckerberg attempted the defense of not being able to know every conversation at Facebook “because I wasn’t in a lot of them… I mean, I’m not sure what other people discussed.” WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 10: Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC

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Sen. Harris puts Zuckerberg between a rock and a hard place for not disclosing data misuse

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